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The Art of Constructive Criticism


I stand before a sea of pre-teen eyes; they are slightly narrowed, as if suspicious as to whether or not I have anything genuinely useful to say. “I will let you in on a little secret,” I say with a mischievous twinkle in my eye: “Ninety percent of what you write is awful—not worth reading.”

Their eyes become wide and their mouths open slightly as if questioning whether or not they had heard me correctly. “That’s right,” I repeat. “Ninety percent of what you write is a complete train wreck.”

I am surrounded by looks that say, “Who hired you to teach here, you horrible, horrible man?”

“Now,” I continue, “before you go getting all offended, you should know that ninety percent of what I write is also worthless. In fact, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Gary Paulsen—all of them—ninety percent worthless.”

The looks of anger are now replaced by the knitted brows of confusion. “Good news, though,” I smile. “Ten percent of what you write is marvelous. The work of writing is to find the gold, remove the chaff, and refine, refine, refine until your writing glitters with every word. This is what we learn to do here. And this is where we learn to help one another to achieve this.”

The Evil Eye

The Evil Eye

This discussion comes early in every writing class I teach. And only now, after years spent trying to help students understand this concept, have I come to realize the vital importance of learning to write effective criticism.

In this discussion, I will summarize what I have learned as both a teacher and a writer about giving feedback to other writers that provides genuinely useful details for supporting both immediate revision and long-term writing growth.

Main Concepts:

  • Leggo My Ego (Being honest and keeping it professional)
  • Take Me Trippin’ in Your Head (Revealing the writing as you experience it)
  • Do You Feel Me? (Using precise language)

Leggo My Ego

“This piece rocks! You are the best writer that ever set pen to paper.”

Now who wouldn't love to hear this about his or her writing? Every writer craves praise from his or her readers and fears criticism. After all, writing is very personal; sharing it is a universally courageous act. Thankfully, most readers respect this and keep it in mind as they provide feedback. Unfortunately, it often causes them to become timid and afraid of offending the writer—as if to suggest that a piece is not perfect somehow translates into a personal insult.

Writers know their work is imperfect. Good writers know they can’t see all the problems, so they need good readers to help them find the gaps. A good reader must be prepared to point out these gaps without fear of offending the writer.

How do you achieve this? Try this:

  • Don't talk about what you “like” or “don’t like”: As soon as you use these words, my ego will jump in no matter how much I might try to fight it. I begin thinking about how great a writer I am, or how horrible a writer I am, or how you don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. None of this helps me to focus on the writing itself and what I can do to improve it.
  • Do talk about what "works" and what "doesn't work": These words immediately focus my attention on the writing itself, which is where the attention belongs. Use of this language creates an emotional distance that allows us to talk objectively about what’s going on in the writing and whether or not it is effective or ineffective for the given purpose.

Please help me let go of my ego; be honest and keep it professional.

An edited photo of me in your head.  Creepy, huh?

An edited photo of me in your head. Creepy, huh?

Take Me Trippin' in Your Head

I once told a friend of mine in high school—a girl I happened to be interested in—that I thought it very limiting that I would have to be stuck being me my whole life. I would never get the chance to experience what it was like to be her—to see the world through her eyes. Needless to say, that was not the best approach for getting a first date.

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Nonetheless, this is a central problem for all writers. A writer can only experience his or her writing through his or her own eyes. Even though the writer wrote it for you, the writer can’t experience it as you do because the writer is not inside your head. There is no greater gift you can give an author than this: to open that door. Let the author experience his or her writing through your eyes. You will find many strengths and weaknesses that are invisible to the writer. Only through your feedback does that writer have a chance to consider them and decide for him or herself what to do with the writing.

Taking the writer on a trip through your experience, however, requires the use of very specific details. Generalized comments lead toward a sense of whether or not you liked the piece, but rarely identify specific strengths or weaknesses in the writing. The writer needs to know precisely what you were thinking and feeling as you were going through the writing.

These details can be separated into two basic categories:

  1. Does The Writing Make Sense?
  • If you get lost or confused, the writer needs to know. Sure, sometimes confusion in a story or poem can be good; it adds mystery and intrigue. Readers know the difference, however, between curiosity and frustration. If the confusion is annoying, the author needs to know exactly what details of the writing are causing it so they can be fixed.
  • If something is fascinating, the writer needs to know. When you learn something interesting or a particular event makes you curious, let the author know. When the writer can get a sense of the specific details that created this reaction, he or she can capitalize on them.
  1. Is the Writing Vivid?
  • Let the author live inside the world his or her writing creates for you. Rich sensory detail is critical in crafting immersive writing, and authors spend a tremendous amount of time working their language to create vivid detail. Authors are often deceived, however, as they have access to the complete imaginative experience they are trying to create where the reader has only the words. The writer needs access to the reader’s experience to see how well the words match the original ideas.
  • Specifically discuss what the words allow you to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. Helping the writer to understand the sensory details you experienced as you read specific sections of his or her writing is extremely valuable. Pointing out both strengths and weaknesses will help the writer to focus on re-crafting the writing for greater immersive depth.
That's right.  You're feelin' me now.

That's right. You're feelin' me now.

Do You Feel Me?

Whenever I speak this phrase at school, the students are guaranteed to laugh at me. Apparently middle-aged English teachers just can't pull it off with the same pizazz as a thirteen-year-old. Nevertheless, the sentiment still applies here.

Do you feel me?--do you understand what I am saying? When it comes to giving feedback on writing, sadly, an author's response to this question would often be no. Comments are too generalized and lack the specific language needed to clearly articulate ideas.

You see, really understanding and intelligently discussing any area of human knowledge requires the use of the right words. To discuss music without knowing what "harmony" and "melody" mean is pointless, football will be lost on you if you don't know what a "running back" is, and good luck balancing your checkbook without understanding "withdrawals" and "deposits." This is also true for writing. Only by using precise words can you specifically articulate what you mean.

In writing, these words fall into three categories: Grammar, Genre-Specific Terminology, and Topic-Specific Terminology.

Grammar: All writers use grammar. References to punctuation, sentence construction, and word usage are easy to make specific and provide important feedback for a writer. Keep in mind that grammar, which for most people is only remembered as a giant stick that your English teacher used to beat you with in school (ah, the joys of teaching), actually lies at the core of all beautiful writing. Grammar is not just about rules; it is also about making artistic choices in how one presents his or her vision. Helping a writer see where they are making mistakes and, even better, helping a writer see where he or she is making effective aesthetic decisions about the way he or she phrases ideas, is extremely useful.


Genre-Specific Terminology: These words allow you to articulate specific ideas about common aspects of the given genre in which the writer is writing. Poets speak of lines, stanzas, rhyming, and figurative language. Fiction writers speak of characters, setting, plot, and conflict. Academic writers speak of theories, reasoning, and evidence. Using the right terminology in your critiques allows you to address how well these genre-specific elements of the writing are working, making the feedback valuable for the writer.

Topic-Specific Terminology: This is language that is relevant to the subject about which the author is writing. Once again, if I'm writing about football, then you need to use the specific language of football when discussing what's working or not working in my writing. Doing so allows you to speak to specific opinions or lines reasoning that a given author is using in his or her writing.


Short shots like, "Great writing," and, "This was fun to read," give a writer a boost, but they don't help the writer to grow. Keep the following things in mind, and start using the wonderful gift of your own unique perspective to help others improve their writing:

  • Be Honest: Provide both positive and constructive criticisms
  • Be Specific: Provide specific examples from the author's writing to support your criticisms
  • Use Literary Terminology: Use the language of writing for the clear articulation of ideas

Thanks for taking the time to read. I'd love to hear what you think!

Articles on Writing

Articles on Writing


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on August 22, 2012:


I would be an awful writer without it, and I hope to just keep getting better with its help. Thanks for reading!


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on August 22, 2012:


Thanks for stopping in to read. It's gratifying to know there are others out there who resonate with this material. I hope that it serves you well!


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on August 22, 2012:


Thanks. This was my first real success here on Hubpages. So happy to be a continuing part of the community here.



mmsu from Pakistan on August 21, 2012:

I definitely believe in constructive criticism.Great idea for a hub!!

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on August 21, 2012:

This is very informative, I found myself nodding my head in agreement all the way through. This is so useful, I'm book marking for reference. Thank you for sharing.

RTalloni on August 20, 2012:

So glad to see this excellent hub on appreciating constructive criticism still going strong.

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on December 04, 2011:


Thanks for coming through to read it again. I spend a great deal of time in my classes getting everyone comfortable with the courage it takes to share--writing is just so personal.

I'd not really thought about criticism being personal as well, but I think you are absolutely right.

Good luck on your future writing,


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on December 04, 2011:


My thanks for dropping in! I have been out of the loop with Hubpages myself for awhile now. The school year started and life got very, very busy. I expect I'll eventually catch up, but I don't know how soon that will be. I'll pop in and check out your Revision hub sometime soon. Fear not, I will be brutal in my review!

In the mean time, congratulations on the mini-star...absolutely nothing like it. Take care,


carolyn a. ridge on December 02, 2011:

I first read this hub two months ago; it was great then, as it is now. I especially agree with "writing is very personal; sharing it is a courageous act".

The same holds true for critiquing other writers. Perhaps, it's because when we dare to correct, we often feel as though we'd better have the documentaion to prove our critiques. It's true: a picture can speak a thousand words; but a thousand words do not always create a picture. Good job. Congrats on your achievement of best hub!

northweststarr from Washington State on December 01, 2011:


You've come sooo far in your hubbing. I voted this one up and awesome, way better than I can do! See you've got a few more followers since the last time we chatted, too. Congrats and it couldn't be happening to a nicer guy... Y'know, you aren't a very critical person to be writing a hub about giving criticism. Maybe it comes from grading all those kids' papers? Anything has to sound good after all that! i'm one of the most critical people on the planet so I feel like I can criticize your ability to criticize. Hee hee. Sorry I've been out for a bit. New little mini-starr arrived this last summer and I've been crazy busy. Finished my revision hub... I think. Maybe you could come a criticize it? (Smirk)Have a good one and don't have too much fun on here without me.


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 30, 2011:


Thanks to you for stopping in! I'm glad you enjoyed it.


htodd from United States on July 30, 2011:

Thanks for the great post...

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 30, 2011:


Thanks. I appreciate you dropping by to read. I hope it's helpful.


fashion on July 30, 2011:

Really great topic for a hub.I love your work.

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 29, 2011:


I think that may be a tad extreme--or perhaps a great deal more than a tad--but I sincerely appreciate it nonetheless. Generally, if it's not fun, useful, and interesting my students lose interest very fast, and that can get ugly. In middle school, it's really more of a survival instinct than anything! ;)

I am pleased that you found it useful, and thanks for taking the time to read.

Happy writing!

Róisín Aisling Ireland from Seattle, WA on July 29, 2011:

"this piece rocks! You are the best writer to ever set pen to paper." Maybe you are that good. Seriously this is an awesome hub--fun, useful, AND interesting all at the same time. Great work--loved it.

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 29, 2011:


Thanks so much. The idea of moving from like-don't like to work-doesn't work is very effective, but really hard to do. I constantly fall back into like and don't like myself. It takes real conscious effort to avoid it, but pays off in the way it is received.

Thanks again for the read (and the private message on a grammar fix!),


Phil Plasma from Montreal, Quebec on July 29, 2011:

I try to leave topical salient comments that are positive in the comments section, but will occasionally contact the author directly for grammar or word choice improvements that I think may help them to improve their hub.

Your tip about live-don't like vs work-doesn't work is what really struck me from this hub. I'll be trying to keep it in mind as I read hubs.

Voted up, useful and awesome.

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 28, 2011:

@ Stephen: Thanks so much. I hope to be able to write more like this soon.

@ Carolyn: I'm so pleased to find that you feel this will be useful. Thanks for stopping in to read!

@ Invitationwrite: Wonderful to hear. Thanks so much, and I do hope that you find it useful in the future.

Good writing to you all,


invitationwrite on July 28, 2011:

Awesome topic and really really helpful!

tim wilkinson on July 28, 2011:

Very helpful piece. Thanks


carolyn a. ridge on July 28, 2011:

Wow, what a hub! It was very well written, very well constructed. And yes, I did feel as though I was in English class again. But I loved it! I have only written one hub, so I know that I will refer to your teachings, in the future. This was not only interesting, but helpful and useful, as well. Thank you.

stephen kalu from Nigeria on July 28, 2011:

wonderful hub you have here, keep it up.

stephen kalu from Nigeria on July 28, 2011:

wonderful hub you have here, keep it up.

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 28, 2011:

Shadow of Me,

Thanks so much. It has been an honor to have so many people come through here. I very much agree that, as a student, those who made a point of making their subject fun were always the most memorable and the most successful.

Frankly, as a teacher, I feel the same way. My class is pretty painful when I get boring for both me and the students (which happens more than I'd like, but there are days...). I encourage them to let me know when I'm talking too much--they're very good at it.

My very best to you as you move back into your own writing!

Thanks again,


Shadow of Me from Pennsylvania on July 28, 2011:

First congratulations on hub of the day. I enjoyed reading this. When I was a kid and teenager, I like to write stories all the time. Usually they were goofy stories I made up. Occasionally I would ask one of the teachers to read them and she would give me advice. She and another teacher always encouraged me to continue to write. They also advised me on ways to get better, somewhere over the years I lost the focus.

Now I am trying to get back into writing. I just need to figure out the types of things I would like to write. You sound like the type of teacher most students enjoy. When you try to make learning fun or interesting to young people, they are more receptive. I always enjoyed those types of teachers.

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 28, 2011:

Well, it starts in about three weeks. If you really want to go back to middle school, then you're welcome! ;)

Thanks for taking the time to read, and thanks for the high praise.


invitationwrite on July 28, 2011:

I want to take your class. Seriously!

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 26, 2011:

My 2 Cents Worth,

Thank you so much for your compliments! While my deepest love is writing stories and poetry, there is no question that the basics of effective communication in writing are essential for much more mundane reasons--it's exceedingly important to be able to communicate what you need to say clearly.

All of us struggle in both work and our personal lives to be heard. So many have wonderfully rich and important things to say, but lack the ability to do so. This is a central tenet of my work as an English teacher, and I really appreciate your very practical story in this regard.

With your permission, I will highlight this comment when I share this piece with my students..."Yes, Billy, there is a reason for you to learn to write!"

My best to you in your future writing,


My 2 Cents Worth on July 26, 2011:

Congratulations on your post being chosen as Hub of the Week; it was honest and entertaining. I have two daughters in high school and can only hope that they will be blessed with a teacher (like you)dedicated to improving their communication skills.

I have worked as a secretary/office manager. In that capacity, it was my responsibility to type correspondence for the manager, but not necessarily to edit his writing. I realized that although I understood the idea he was trying to convey, what he had written was incoherent. If there is one skill that we must learn in school, it must be the ability to communicate well.

We may never need to know how to solve a quadratic equation, but we will need to be able to effectively communicate our thoughts and ideas to others. Please continue to encourage your students to improve their writing.

Looking forward to following your posts.

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 25, 2011:


You make an excellent point here, and I address this in my classes with a story:

When I began my career, I was a middle school band director. One of the coolest things about beginning band is this: every person in the room is absolutely HORRIBLE on the first day. Every kid goes to make a sound, and it's guaranteed to sound like a dying animal. Now isn't that awesome?

Naturally, I get confused looks from the students. You see, even Mozart was awful the first time he played an instrument. Louis Armstrong made the same death-throws-of-a-dying-cow sound that you just did when he first went to play the trumpet. Imagine the possibilities! We all start here as equals, so we don't have to worry about all of that who's better than who business--we're all terrible together. From there, we can begin to learn. We can grow--which is the whole point.

Of course, it only takes a few weeks for this to fall away, but, it you work at it, you can maintain the sense of adventure. I then translate this to writing and the kids in my class. I genuinely don't care how well you write today. I'm much more interested in how you write tomorrow.

I also make it a point to find ways to emphasize the times when the really "terrible" writers in the class point out something no one else saw, as well as emphasize the choices that good writers make that we need to imitate.

It's definitely a journey--excellent point!

I hope that rambling answered your question.



Sunny2o0o from USA on July 25, 2011:

In your classes, I'm just curious, do you also say anything about practice? Even our most celebrated authors weren't brilliant the first time that they put pen to paper or, in more recent years, fingers to keyboard; rather, it took them a lot of practice, during which they probably produced a lot of terrible work, as you so rightly mention. Does the 90-10% take that into account? It isn't just editing out the bad, it's also getting to a point where there is something to be edited out along the way to making good work.

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 25, 2011:


How awesome that you have come here to share what you know! Having the commitment to write when it's hard is one of the greatest strengths I see in some of my students. When that strength develops varies, but so many never get there at all. My sincere compliments to you.

It may take a little while, but I will definitely stop by and see what you have shared and leave my thoughts for you. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave yours here.

My best to you in your writing!


Eddie Carrara from New Hampshire on July 25, 2011:

Thanks wayseeker for a very interesting article. When I was in school, many moons ago, I was one of the students who sat quietly in the back of the class, and sort of fell through the cracks. I had no interest in learning at the time and I even quit my typing class because I thought it would never benefit me in life. If only I knew then, what I know now, I would have never walked out of typing class and I defiantly would have spent more time on my English and grammar homework.

I do my best with the education I have, and try to help reader with their specific problems. It takes me much longer to write a hub than the average hubber, but my intent is to educate people on what I know and what I understand. I find myself getting lost while writing and many time having a difficult time getting my point across in words. I ask for constructive criticism in my profile, but the type of readers I attract, are there for the information, not for helping me with my writing:)

If you ever happen to read any of my hubs, I am welcome to any and all suggestion. I think I have improve a lot since I first started on line four years ago, so you can only imagine what type of train wrecks I have produced in the past. Lol


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


Honestly, I do not have enough experience out here in the "real world" of adult authorship to know how common it is for writers to really know how to respond to one another's work. (Which, by the way, is something I learned a great deal about through my master's work with National University--so there was a steep learning curve for me, too.) I know that among my students it is virtually non-existent.

If this hub has helped anyone take even a little step farther down the path, then it was time well spent. I'm so pleased you found it useful.

Thanks for taking the time to read!


Liola Lee on July 24, 2011:

It is so true how we are afraid to offend the writer/author when giving feedback. For a while I showcased some work on a writers website called 'Authonomy' as I was loooking for constructive criticism so that I could improve my writing. Of course, there were some who did offer valuable criticism but in the main it was merely comments such as 'well done', 'great work' and so forth. I read your article as I was drawn to the title. I have found it most useful. Thank you for the virtual lesson!!

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


That poem at the end is absolutely stupendous! Very clever.



Christopher Dapo from Morehead City, NC on July 24, 2011:

In your response to Flora you said -

It seems in any are of human endeavor, including the arts, there are those who seem to feel they have it figured out, and some make it a point to speak as though they do.

You meant to have it say "area" not "are" :)

As for the individual responses, it's wonderful and I think it's very important to converse and acknowledge, especially on similar points of interest. It is, after all, inherent in our own spiritual nature to share thoughts and ideas, else we would have never come to a medium of language to begin with. ;)

Let it be read, let it be written, let it be said though it may be smitten, better it's there rather than it'nt! :D

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:

The Suburban Poet,

Hah! The Lennon story is awesome.

I so appreciate the time you've taken to write. Thank you.


Mark Lecuona from Austin, Texas on July 24, 2011:

You weren't preachy to me... Personally I'm not sure if I want criticism or not... I'm not necessarily trying to follow the rules. Certainly I want to spell correctly and use an apostrophe as appropriate but unless I'm just being completely incoherent it's sort of "here it is" and "this is what I meant to say." But if you ever read anything of mine and truly see something that could raise me to another level then... well... ok... I guess so.....

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


It is an honor to have you say such a thing, and I've a similar goal--though it is still very, very far away. We just have to keep on writing and letting the world tear it apart so we can see what needs to be done.

Thanks for reading,


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:

Hey Christopher,

Where is it? Nasty little typos. :)


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


Awesome response. Thank you. Someone turned this critique business back on me; I love it.

Point well taken, and I sincerely hope that I've not turned people off by responding in so much depth.

Here are my purposes behind this: I have been going through and responding to everyone who has posted their thoughts, which I feel is very important, because I wanted to give my thoughts on what they had to say so they knew I was taking it to heart. About half way through I began to fear coming off as you describe--a Mr. Know-it-all. I am pleased to hear you say this, and I would beg for anyone out there who can help me stop that to do so.

I guess that leaves me with a question, and it is an honest one: would it be better to simply say thank you to everyone individually and move on? My own take on that is that it does not really honor the time you've taken to read my work. Are my thoughts in response to your thoughts helpful, or are they preachy? If the responses offend, then I will absolutely cease and desist!

Good luck in your writing, and thanks so much for the candid comment--it absolutely helps!


P.S. I love the idea of directly requesting critical feedback--I think it will help make people more comfortable with the idea.

Christopher Dapo from Morehead City, NC on July 24, 2011:

Don't feel so bad, Suburban - he left a typo, too!! :D

Mark Lecuona from Austin, Texas on July 24, 2011:

wayseeker - Well that's just great. I read your response to me, went back to read my comment and saw that I had a typo! I said I was patient when in fact I meant to say I was very impatient!

It's interesting what you said about Frost and certainly not comparing myself to him at all but I do believe that I discard things in my mind before I write. But it's not the actual poem itself that goes through multiple drafts in my mind; it's the idea or the premise. Once I reach the point where I understand my own point of view then it goes very quickly. It's that unconsiousness where "the pen does the writing" that I seek. I don't like to agonize. It's either ready or I don't consider myself to have the insight I seek to express. I have written several advice type pieces that were long for my standards and they flowed quickly. The main thing is I don't work it over and over. Either I have it or I don't. Of course this isn't meant to elevate myself. It's just how I work and for all I know it's obvious to all meaning it is not a high standard.

I read an interview with John Lennon and he relayed a story about an artist who was paid a large sum of money to draw a painting. Ten years passed and still he had not produced the work. When the man who commisisoned the painting asked where it was the painter produced a painting in less than one hour. The man protested that he paid too much money for a painting that took so little time and the artist said "Yes, but I thought about it for ten years."

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


You make many wonderful point here--thanks so much for your thoughtful response!

I agree that such criticisms are rare here, but I will run with the belief that there could be more, and I'll support them with all that I can.

I have left a number of criticisms that I have tried to make resemble what I describe here. Out of ten or so comments, everyone's reception has been grateful (though I suppose there's no way of knowing for sure, as many whose feelings might be hurt by such a thing would not be likely to write about that in response).

Still, two of those ten people have messaged me directly requesting a review of their revised pieces--now that's awesome. I have, then, been able to forward my work on to them for similar feedback. This is the life-blood of a community in which writers genuinely grow.


My best to you in your future writing, and please feel free to shred my work anytime!


Christopher Dapo from Morehead City, NC on July 24, 2011:

Wow, what a hub, including the ever-growing list of comments! Indeed you are offering wonderful advise in all areas of writing and critiquing. I always appreciate constructive criticism and personally love it when someone points out a mistake in my writing. In most cases, here on HubPages I get a better feel for the authors and the messages they are trying to display.

My advice to others, which I take to heart myself is, don't be afraid to post or publish something you need to put up and out there, it is scary at times, but if you put down that you want the criticism to help you improve your writing, it might come easier both for you to accept it as well as for others to post it.

I tend to write long paragraphs and huge sentences, and you know what - I love hearing about it, and what's more, I also do it subconsciously on purpose because it forces you to pay attention and get the point I'm making.

Now, you asked for some constructive criticism, so here goes - You sound too much like Mr. Know-It-All...but then again, you are for the most part, so consider my attempt at being your critic a faltered one! :D

Happy literary trails,


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


We must constantly be reminded of those things we need to know--people are very forgetful. My wife is sure to help me remember as much on a regular basis!

I'm glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for taking the time to read.


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


Inspiration--now there's a word I love. I'm please to hear this was helpful to you.

Best of luck in your future writing,


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


Thank you for taking the time to read!


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


I'm very sorry that you had such a bad experience with criticism. People are people, and I'm afraid such things cannot be avoided from time to time. Most people, however, are quite reasonable, and will respond well to advice that is given in a kind and caring way (being certain to ALWAYS point out more strengths than weaknesses helps significantly).

I am a "volume" writer as well--just let it flow. LOTS needs to be scrapped and re-done afterwords, however. It's all part of the fun!

Happy writing,


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:

Vision and Focus,

I'm very pleased that it was helpful. Both as a teacher and as a writer myself, I am now convinced that learning how to critique the writing of others well is centrally important to one's own development as a writer. Only when you learn to see deeply into another writer's work do you begin to have the ability to see deeply into your own.

Happy writing!


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:

The Suburban Poet,

Thanks for taking the time to read! Your comment reminds me of a conversation I have with many a student from year to year about Robert Frost. He was well known for writing his poems down in near-perfect form the first time. So does he disprove the 90/10 rule?

I would argue that he does not. First, he was a genius, so I suspect the 90/10 rule that applies to us normal folks is skewed a bit in his favor--say 50/50. Still, you also don't see all the work he did in his head before he wrote it down. If we could rummage through the trash can in his head, how many rejected drafts of really bad poems would we find?

People simply work differently. Some do it on paper. Some in their heads. No one gets by without doing the work, however; no free rides.

For me, my fingers go nuts on microsoft word, and I filter out the best--more or less--to put out there. I have mounds of worthless drivel shoved in the back of my hard drive.

My best to you in your future writing,


P.S. As a side note, for anyone who happens to be in my class, you get no credit for what's in your head. I don't care if you are Robert Frost, in my class you get to write it down!

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


Thanks! I can see from a short time at your profile that I have hours and hours of learning to gain from you--which will commence shortly. It is an honor for such a well-recognized writer from "Hubville" to have good things to say about my work. Thank you.

My best to you in your future writing,


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


My roots are in music--going a long way back. I, too, have been to many a music festival and seen the people you describe. It seems in any are of human endeavor, including the arts, there are those who seem to feel they have it figured out, and some make it a point to speak as though they do. This is largely transparent, and many people see right through it, causing them to lose whatever authority their skill may have earned them. It is very rare for someone to really listen to someone they do not respect.

I make it a point to help my students understand that each and every one of them has something unique to say, and that I, no matter how much "better" they might think I am at writing, have a great deal to learn from them. I am humbled every year by what they teach me that I did not know--I have been humbled here at Hubpages numerous times already in just a short time. Humility opens our ears, giving us a chance to listen, and possibly grow.

In the end, that's the whole point.

Thanks for your wonderful thoughts,


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


Looks like I need to check out some poetry! The one thing that folks kept commenting on in my creative writing as I moved through my education was how my strength seemed to be with darker material. I tried humor once, and it just didn't fly. Light. Romatic. I tried a lot, but nothing worked like the darker stuff from the deep soul.

I'll drop by and check it out! Thanks for taking the time to read.

Best of luck in your writing,


NiaLee from BIG APPLE on July 24, 2011:

You definitely remind me of my teacher in first year in college...the only thing is she was so cold and constructive criticism was not a forte! So, we didn't learn a lot from her, just that we need to work harder and better...that came from the bad grades she gave us!LOL

I really want to improve my writing: style, tone, structure... I know I can do better and want to. I just miss some time with the kids and so many other things I do. But this is my priority, to become a good professional writer and a best seller author...yes yes sir!

NiaLee from BIG APPLE on July 24, 2011:

Ok, great article, now, where do you teach, I want to take your class. Seriously!

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 24, 2011:

Congratulations on the Hub of the Day award--well deserved!

You make excellent points. I would add that it is doubtful any such constructive criticisms will ever be seen here in the HP comments, for 2 reasons:

1) not all authors are native English-speakers and writers, and

2) many people making comments (myself included) would not even think of making a correction in a public forum.

Worrying about hurting someone's feelings is a valid concern; we humans can be a hyper-sensitive lot all wound up inside the yarn of our egos. A few times, I've found something so glaring that I did feel the need to make a comment or gentle correction, and I did so, but by means of the 'contact hubber' private message.

If I may be so bold as to add an explanatory post-script regarding my own preferences and reactions to descriptive writing:

I do enjoy reading colorful and cogent descriptions in various authors' works; and this includes famous published authors, not just us 'Hubbers.'

This can be carried to far, though--I lose patience rapidly with authors who carry on for an entire first chapter describing every nuance of the shadows in the grass, counting the pleats in characters' clothing and dreaming up clever color-names for the paint on the houses. My reaction to that level of detail is, "Get on with the story, already!"

Grammar and spelling are vitally important, and what many do not understand is that we as authors must have a firm grasp of those subjects in order to successfully break the rules to portray a given character's speech patterns. If all the spelling and grammar is sloppy, there is no distinction between the characters' dialogue or the narrative portion of the tale.

I applaud your efforts to educate the youth (a thankless task these days, I fear), and us "Hubbers." I have a few rants of my own on the topic. ;-)


RTalloni on July 24, 2011:

Congrats on the Hub of the Day award. It's well deserved. This is valuable to writers and readers because the old saying is true, "We should value our critics." Thanks for guidelines to keep in mind. They are worth revisiting every so often! Voted up.

tanujpanwar on July 24, 2011:

gr8 inspiring and informative hub........cheers

Pamela N Red from Oklahoma on July 24, 2011:

Great information here. Writers must be able to take as well as give criticism. You have described the proper way of doing it.

kallini2010 from Toronto, Canada on July 24, 2011:

She came and made a comment "Great post. Thanks".

And another one. And another one. In one minute she read three of my amazingly amazing and I have to say long articles.

Before I would be furious, but what is the point of fuming? I said "Thank you" for every "great post", visited her section and did the same - three comments "Great post. Thanks" in one minute. She did not say anything.

This is called "the mirror effect". No need for a long rebuttal.

That is only a reflection of how I learn to give constructive criticism - before I would have said "It appears to me that you did not read my article" and be offended.

Or worse yet, write a long critique. Usually for subject matter, not for style, because if style is not there - reading is a torture and I think I have passed that stage.

Once (I hope it was the last time) I got myself into "discussion" (a fight more like) with a woman who did not seem to be worth fighting with. She was condescending and patronizing.

She told me that I "write my hubs well, but not my comments. UNFORTUNATELY." As if she read all my hubs and all my comments. But the issue was linguistics and she said "you seem to be an expert in linguistics?"

I am not an expert, but I know enough to see that her article is at best inaccurate.

Then she responds that "despite me she is a linguist by education..."

"Despite me.." was enough for me to lose all respect.

I don't write long critiques and most readers (at least here on HubPages) don't.


I have the courage to write, but not to offer my advice because I don't think it is welcome and I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings.

If I have to accept criticism, I have to respect the one offering it. It does not happen too often here either.

I do agree, that we as readers do not see what writers see and mean and try to convey. In their work we see .... ourselves. It is a mirror house of reflections. I am planning to write an article "Mirror House", but it takes me a long time because I get lost and confused myself.

Thank you for your suggestions. And I agree - 90% of what I write ... However, with my rules of creativity, it is acceptable : I call creativity - crap-activity. It has to go out, then it can be s-crapped.

visionandfocus from North York, Canada on July 24, 2011:

Excellent article on an important subject. I've always been leery about giving critiques, but there are tons of great tips here to enable me to do a good job of it. Thanks for sharing. This hub is a great resource not only for those who are called upon to critique other people's work but also for writers themselves. I find it enormously helpful. Thank you.

Mark Lecuona from Austin, Texas on July 24, 2011:

Congratulations on being picked as hub of the day. I think the 10% comment is very important. I am incredibly patient and apparently very egotistical as almost all my work is first draft and hit "post comment." I wonder what I could do if I slowed down and even possibly consolidated lines from other pieces that cover similar topics.... something to think about... meanwhile I gulp coffee and pound the keyboard in fear of forgetting what I want to say... Thank you for the great hub.

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


Pride & Prejudice in the 3rd grade? Clearly you were a slacker in school. ;) English is a third language, too? I'm okay at my first, but I can barely hack my way through Spanish, and I know virtually nothing about anything else. What a wonderful gift.

You should go easy on yourself with your mastery of English--it's quite good. I also suspect it's not surprising that Chinese grammar is easier--English grammar is a mess. I'm a long way from having that truly nailed down as I should. Still, that whole character-memorizing thing seems a bit daunting when it comes to learning Chinese.

Whatever the case, language is beautiful in whatever form it takes.

Thanks for taking the time to read, and I'm glad you found it helpful.



RedElf from Canada on July 24, 2011:

Congratulations on your award! I can certainly see why this hub was chosen!

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:

Sunshine 625,

An early voice in pulling for me here on Hubpages--your support means more than you know.

Sincerest thanks,


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


More useful than a 35 page reader? Cool. Of course, as much as I respect the huge amount I have learned in undergraduate and graduate school, the number of useless readers I've read is far too high to count! ;)

I'm glad you found it useful. Best of luck with the class, and be sure to let us see some of that new work here when you get the chance.

Good luck with your writing!


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


Thank you!

Good luck with your writing.


FloraBreenRobison on July 24, 2011:

Congratulations on being chosen hub of the day. Constructive criticism is important in all of life. I've been to music festivals where the adjudicator has been very helpful, and I have been at music festivals where the adjudicator only wanted to deal with the people who were good enough to make it to the provincials-ie, they didn't need any help. What exactly was she being paid to do? -Just hand out awards?

saddlerider1 on July 24, 2011:

What a magnificent Hub, I can see why it was chosen as Hub of the Day. You have shed some very important light not only to your students but to the rest of your students out here in the real world of writers like myself who are constantly humbled by others more talented and versed with the written word.

As a poet I reveal often The Trippin through my head, mostly from my past and often dark experiences. I have managed to express myself well enough to secure a following here. Yet I am a student of scribes, I to understand the value of expression, and clarity.

My poems come to me naturally, due to very strong imagery that I capture from my soul, then lay it down in front of me. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I VOTED your hub UP and pressed all your buttons.

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


Wow. Thank you. If I was able to bring back memories like that for you and nothing else with this hub, then it was well worth the time. There is nothing like those great teachers we had a chance to know. As a teacher, I can only hope to serve in that place for a few of those I am blessed to teach.

My best to you!


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


That is my hope!

Happy writing.


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


There are so many wonderful things that we so easily forget. That's one of the reasons I put this together--I need more people out there shredding my work!

Happy writing!


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


Thanks for the support! I can't wait to find time to read your Beethoven/Dostoevsky hub. I'm fairly convinced you must be some kind of long lost brother or something. First the Schumann Carnival, and now two of my very favorite artists in the world in one hub?


It may take a day or two, but you'll see me there soon.



tchenruiz from San Francisco Bay Area on July 24, 2011:

Wayseeker - Thank you for this wonderful HUB. I love literature. I read Pride & Prejudice when I was in 3rd grade, the one w/ English on one page and Chinese on the other. I read the Chinese part, of course. English being my 3rd language, I always feel inadequate in my writing. Thanks for the tips, and I'll keep on improving my grammar. Believe it or not, I think Chinese grammar is so much easier. Congrats again!

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


It's always nice to know that someone found your work useful. Thanks!

Best of luck on your writing!


Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on July 24, 2011:

Congrats on being Hub Of The Day wayseeker!! This hub serves as a writing tool for many. Well thought out and told. Kudos to you!!!

bulkdive from Marina, Ca on July 24, 2011:

This Hub is seriously more useful than the thirty page reader that I was issued last semester in my Advanced Comp class. I'm going to keep it in mind when my Creative Writing class starts this semester.

myhomestudios from Vancouver on July 24, 2011:

Awesome topic and really really helpful!

Camille Olivia Strate from Planet Earth on July 24, 2011:

This is one of the best pieces I've ever read on the net. No kidding. I was instantly transported back to my High School creative writing class; the teacher's name was Lynn Spieglemeyer..(can you believe I still remember her name after all these years?!) and she was, without question, one of my most influential teachers. Your style (delivery) here is very much akin to hers. She was "firm" but colorful in her teaching methods; as you are here. Made me grin like a Cheshire.

Thanks for sharing your goods. I'll most certainly be back for more of your offerings.

Hugs & Giggles ~

psutradhar343 from Dhaka, Bangladesh on July 24, 2011:

This type of writing always helpful for others. It's totally awesome......

Kyle Rivers from Detroit, Michigan on July 24, 2011:

I learned these things in high school regarding the sensory descriptions to allow the reader to pretty much "visualize" what you're talking about. If you're mentioning an apple you ate for the day. The reader would like to know what color, texture, or even the taste of the apple. I really loved this hub. Voted up!

John Sarkis from Winter Haven, FL on July 24, 2011:

Great hub wayseeker! You changed your profile photo. So at first, I didn't even knew who you were - congrats on winning - keep it up!

Take care


BethanRose from South Wales on July 24, 2011:

A very helpful hub and very deserving of its Hub of the day award! This has really taught me some things I should have known! Thankyou.

wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


I'm pleased this held something useful for you. I fully understand the desire not to offend--I try to tread carefully with this, and there have been times when my intentions are received the wrong way. That said, I have found my comments here to be well received where I have left them, and I have sincerely appreciated the advice I have received about my own writing. I need pointers just as much as anyone else!

My young middle school students are, in fact, quite fond of shredding my work. I always welcome it. This, too, proves a great lesson for them.

My best to you in your future writing!


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


Welcome to the Hubpages experience. It has certainly been an adventure for me, I hope you find it the same. I am pleased you found something useful here.

Happy writing!


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


Criticism certainly takes many forms. Almost all of it can be useful when viewed from the right perspective.

Thanks for reading!


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


Thank you for taking the time to read.


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:


Thank you. A student from France is a wonderful thought. As for the giving and receiving of advice, anytime one writes anything there is a risk of being misunderstood--in fact it's a virtual guarantee. The good news is that the writer always has the choice to take it or leave it as sometimes advice is relevant and sometimes it's not, no matter how perceptive the critic might be.

I sincerely appreciate the depth of your thoughts, and I wish you the very best in your future hubbing!


Paradise7 from Upstate New York on July 24, 2011:

Good hub. I'll try to follow your advice in my comments, and see what happens. I'm very careful NOT to be the least bit negative in my feedback, (most of the time) as I don't want to discourage people from contributing. Maybe there are times when I could be more specific.

Moira Garcia Gallaga from Lisbon, Portugal on July 24, 2011:

Congratulations for making hub of the day! Well deserved. This is a very important topic I might say and thanks for sharing your valuable insights into the art of constructive criticism. I'm new to Hub Pages and I love writing. I know I have lots to learn so I welcome criticism as I see this as valuable feedback to allow me to improve and grow.

kasthlin on July 24, 2011:

Hub of the day! and a nice topic indeed! criticism are sometimes reads differently on how people handle and gives them.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on July 24, 2011:

Congratulation for the hub of the day! Thank you for writing this hub. It is a great help for me when somebody gives an honest feedback, may it be in negative or positive criticism so that I will know if I need improvements in writing. Thanks for sharing.

Clairepeek on July 24, 2011:


I wish you had been my English teacher - in France! Your hub was very instructive and at first I even thought provoking: precisely the way you said it would. I am very resistant to 'advices' on my writing, but at the same time, I am starving for it.

The way you talk about using precise words to criticize someone else's work gave me a better clue about my own way of receiving criticism. I understand better my own resistance to it, thank you for that; that was a fun discovery!

I do agree with you when you say that it is courageous for a writer to put his/her work 'out there'; I think also that it may show two things: seeking confirmation for ones work or seeking criticism to better ones writing - it might be both too. Whether one stands for one or the other, criticism may be taken the wrong way - no matter the precision of the words used to formulate a critic.

Congratulations on being chosen for 'Hub of the day'; it is well deserved and useful... I would not have found your hub otherwise and I would have missed on precious advices.

Thank you.


wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:

Thanks Binaya. Lay in to my work every chance you get!

I'll be swinging by some of your new postings soon as well.



wayseeker (author) from Colorado on July 24, 2011:

danielleantosz & Suramya.K,

Thank you! I try very hard to be loving and kind in the criticism I provide for other hubbers. Both as a teacher, and as a hubber, I have found that the real trick is to be sure that you always find deep and genuine positive things to say about another person's writing. But I don't really feel like I've done the writer a service unless I include a few small suggestions--everyone can write better, but it takes all of us to help make it happen!

Besides, you don't have to listen to me if you don't want to--my students have certainly mastered that.

My best to the both of you in your writing and your lives,


Binaya.Ghimire on July 24, 2011:

We don't grow or our writing does not mature in absence of criticism. Very useful hub.

Suramya.K on July 24, 2011:

Thanks for this awesome article. Many hubbers don't like to be criticized and I tend to keep space from them. Whenever I see something wrong, I contact the user and I don't feel like saying all the things in the comments. If they get offended by this, we can do nothing.

Anyways, we are a community and we should be helping others grow while helping ourselves. Your writing style is truly charming and the pictures are well illustrated. Cheers!

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